Posted by: jt | October 18, 2010

who am i to blow against the wind

True story: I haven’t applied for a single job since I left Seattle. I have worked on applications. I have regularly searched for jobs. I’ve found a few postings that, at least on paper, were right up my ally. And I let them all go by.

I wasn’t ready.

There are plenty of people in my life who would take my head off for this, but really. I haven’t been in a space where I’ve been able to think about working. The last thing in the world I’ve wanted to think about is working. Call me Little Ms. Hippie Granola, but I think that kind of, oh, complete disinterest carries over into applications. I certainly haven’t had the energy to pull of that kind of charade in an interview.

This role occasionally requires long hours and the odd weekend. Are you okay with that?
NO. I AM NOT OKAY WITH THAT. I WANT TIME FOR A LIFE, YOU FUCKING TIME-SUCKING, SOUL-ROBBING VAMPIRES.

See? It’s better this way.

This morning I woke up and that shift finally clicked in my brain – it’s time. I’m ready. I have energy. I don’t feel strung out and useless. Let’s. Go.

I had pretty much forgotten about www.astro.com. Reading my horoscope was (is this a bad thing?) part of my work routine – a quick diversion when my brain needed a break. I swear, I was never into this shit before this site. Never. I’m the chic who was born on the cusp and used to read both horoscopes and “choose” the better one. Cheeky? Me?

A few days ago, at a rather low point (can’t imagine why), I came back to the sight and y’know what it says?

Here’s Tuesday:

Personal Daily Horoscope of Tuesday, 19 October 2010
for Jennifer

Profession and social standing
Valid during several weeks: This is a time when you should turn your attention to the most outward aspects of your life – your career, your role in the larger society and your standing and reputation within the community. You should also take this time to examine your life as a whole and see if you are going in the direction you want and making adequate progress in your life. This transit is future oriented rather than past oriented. You may have to deal with elements of your past, but only to make corrections so that you can plan more intelligently for the future. The only real danger of this transit is that if you have done something wrong or in a slipshod fashion it may be exposed now and trip you up in unpleasant ways. It would be a very good idea to look over your life and correct any situations that might give you problems in this way.

That is, um, freakishly spot-on for what I need to do.

And, wait for it, here’s Wednesday:

Personal Daily Horoscope of Wednesday, 20 October 2010
for Jennifer,

Business communication
Valid during several days: Under this influence you should make plans concerning your professional life or the equivalent area of your life. Think about what you have been doing along these lines and whether or not it is working out as you want it to. If necessary, plan to make changes that will improve it for you. This is also a favorable time to talk to superiors, bosses or employers about your work and how you may advance in your job. This may or may not be a good time for actually trying to get a promotion, depending on other factors. But you can use this time to find the best way to go about getting a promotion. During this time you may also become involved with the part of your business that involves communicating with the outside world, either through advertising or through contract negotiations.

I hear you, universe. And I totally agree.

It’s finally time.

Posted by: jt | October 14, 2010

but if you try sometimes, you just might find

This feels really fanficcy, but it’s also probably appropriate:

Content Warning: Dark themes, including fantasizing about the death of a parent and discussion of (past) suicidal tendencies. Implied violence (off-screen), utter clichés and really, exceptionally childish behavior. May be triggering.

This post is not what I want this blog to be. One of the reasons entries here have been so sparse over the last…forever, despite having copious amounts of time since quitting my job, is that I like to write things that are funny. Maybe pithy, maybe poignant, maybe ranty, but the part of me that’s always wanted to be a stand-up comedian needs it to be at least a little bit funny. When I can’t access that humor, I rarely write.

I certainly don’t always succeed in finding the humor in things – even when there’s potential for it. But still.

………

Last night, my father was exceptionally rude to me. I responded in a way that was, admittedly, childish. His reaction was one of the most over-the-top I’ve ever seen from him. I should say, experienced with him, because it was certainly a physical altercation that left me feeling attacked, violated and unsafe. He didn’t actually hit me or physically injure me in any way, but then his abuse has always taken a different form.

The door of the room I’m staying in doesn’t have a lock on it. I barricaded it before going to sleep. Rationally, I know the odds of that being necessary indicate that I was overreacting. Realistically, I knew there was no way I was going to fall asleep without it.

My mom witnessed the entire thing and, after my father had left the room, turned to me and said, “Well, that’s going to take a lot to…” “To what?” I snorted. “Smooth over,” she replied. Smooth over. Because that’s as good as it gets with my father. He’s absolutely incapable of admitting he’s ever done anything wrong. In the 30 years I’ve been on this planet, I have never once heard him apologize. For anything. Not for accidentally bumping into someone, not for farting in public, not for kicking the front door of our house in after he fought with my sister, not for screaming at me every day of my life from when I was 11 – 18.

We smooth over. He stews for a while – minutes, hours or days, depending upon the level of escalation – and the rest of us pretend nothing happened. Smooth.

It’s a total fucking cliché, complete with the fact that he only treats his family this way. To everyone else, he’s smiles and friendly, albeit awkward, chatting.

I’ve been here since the end of August. He’s said less than 500 words to me in that time.

When I arrived from Seattle, I was pretty broken. I left Seattle because I knew, I couldn’t deal with being there any longer. Every day before work, I’d stand in the shower and give myself a pep talk that I could do this, it would be okay, it would be okay, it would be okay. On the bad days, I would wait for a bus instead of taking my usual walk into work because I didn’t trust myself to cross the bridge going over the interstate. Every time I’d walk across it a voice in my head would whisper that it would be so much easier to just lean over the railing. And fall. Headfirst into interstate traffic. Staying in the cold, isolated, dreary, dead-end gloom that was my Seattle, was not an option.

When I got here, he wasn’t here. He knew when my mom and I were due to arrive – we’d called and let him know the time. He was out running errands. When he got back, he greeted me with stilted, “Hello,” and then turned to talk to my mom. He still hasn’t asked me how I am.

I’ve definitely always borne the brunt of his abuse (even my mom and sisters agree with that), but it’s far from limited to me. Sometimes it’s not outright abusive, just him being a completely inconsiderate asshole and deliberately demonstrating just how little he values you. Just that.

A couple of weeks ago it was my mom’s birthday. He went out about half and hour before she was due home and bought her a card. I spent four hours cooking a seriously fucking ridiculous dinner, including melt-in-your-mouth sirloin steaks that I was optimistic even he might compliment. Five minutes after my mom got home from work, he was out the door to a Lion’s Club meeting, without so much as mentioning her birthday. He ate dinner there. He was too full to join us for cake when he got back.

Honestly, my mom and I had a much more pleasant evening without him, but, as was pointed out to her by both her parents and my sister when they called, he really should have stayed home. She agreed. I thought he could have at least deigned to ask my mom if she minded if he went, but I have always been the problematic one with my questions.

I realized, sort of to my astonishment, last night as I was barricading myself in, I don’t hate him. I no longer care enough to hate him. I just want him out of my life.

After I swallowed my mom’s smooth over comment, I told her that my life would be so much easier if she’d just divorce him. It’s not the first time I’ve told her that. I once swore that I never would, but I broke down on the drive out from Seattle when she was, in her own perverse, emotionally-stunted way, trying to prep me for the reality of spending time under the same roof as him by rehashing every moment she could think of when he’d treated me like shit. I finally lost it and told her that she didn’t have a clue; That the incidents she remembers so vividly as being awful are all just a blur for me because they were entirely normal. They’re just tiny, ordinary drops in the massive bucket of abuse. I told her how I used to pray that they would get divorced – the kind of blindly fervent prayers I was only capable of as a small child. I didn’t mention that I remember them starting when I was around 7. There’s a myth in my family that things only really got bad when my father “retired,” when I was 11. We’ll leave that small mercy for now.

As I sat in the chair where, 30 minutes prior, my father had accosted me, it occurred to me that divorce wouldn’t really work at this point. I think it might have helped when I was a kid. Only seeing us on weekends or (the real hope was for) every other weekend might have made time spent with us actually of interest. Now, though, my mom would always yearn for some kind of reconciliation (even as she continues to promote the oh-so-healthy smooth over method) and I know: divorce is never going to happen here. They’re both far too codependent and there’s just no way my mom would ever face the (self-inflicted) shame and humiliation of a divorce a) in the small town she lives in and b) with her stupidly conservative family.

The only time this cycle is going to end is after he’s died. I wish I could feel bad about writing that, but I can’t. He is not and has never been a father to me. He is, and has only ever been, a negative presence in my life. I came to terms with that years ago and now, I just don’t want to have to deal with it any more. It’s just tedious. I’ve stopped letting him hurt me and, at this point, it’s just boring and annoying putting up with his stupidity. When he dies, I don’t know what I’ll grieve, because I’ve already done my grieving. I’ll grieve for my mom, I suppose. For the years she’s wasted with this asshole. For marrying the wrong man. She’s essentially admitted that. My father was her rebound guy, she was raised that sex outside of marriage was evil, and hormones were flying fast. 36 years later, it’s unhappily ever after.

My father is only 63, so odds are, we have a ways to go here. A long, sullen, angry way.

Y’know what my fantasy is though? After my father is gone, my mom will find someone who actually cares about her. Maybe I could come home to a happy place where people try to be kind to each other. It won’t be perfect, but it would be comfortable – the sort of place that has a few wrinkles around the edges that you can acknowledge and recognize, and learn from, without having to smooth them over.

………

This post? This isn’t what I want this blog to be. That’s not a judgment or a statement of disappointment, it just annoys me because it’s not what I want.

Posted by: jt | July 21, 2010

turn her down the rocky road

Fair warning: inevitable (though not devastating) spoilers for the movie mentioned. It’s really not a movie review. It’s really not.

I (finally) picked up a copy of Sherlock Holmes last week and…I haven’t seen a reason to rein in my capacity for repetition. We’re not going to bother trying to count the number of times over the last week that I’ve watched Robert Downey Jr. strum a violin in frustration and pratfall his way through a shipyard. (Shades of Chaplin, fangirls?)

Before we delve into things, I must say, this exchange ranks within at least the top ten of my all time favorite movie quotes:

Watson: Holmes, does your depravity know no bounds?
Holmes: No.

For my tastes, Guy Ritchie’s incarnation of Sherlock Holmes is like candy. It’s fun, quick, and a happy balance between action and bantering boys. In all fairness, I’m not a Holmes connoisseur. I might have read a story or two as a kid and I have vague recollections of enjoying Young Sherlock Holmes but that’s about it, so I was never going to be this movie’s harshest critic. (Fear not, the mythical MacGyver movie will get a thorough and passionate fisking.)

Much as I enjoy it, Sherlock has a few continuity issues that make me want to smack the editor. Post-explosion Holmes has a scratch on his forehead that can’t seem to stay put and Watson’s left ear heals just [ahem] a bit faster than one might find plausible. Candles are replaced with pitchers. A rope twisted around a leg becomes a knotted rope, and then magically disappears all together but…really, these are qualms I’m only even bothering to mention because, dammit, it’s Sherlock Holmes. We’re not 15 minutes in before the man himself tells us, “In fact, the little details are by far the most important.”

In this case, they’re really not and I’m thoroughly charmed by this film, including most of its little details. What grates on my nerves is a problem so huge and endemic that it seemingly doesn’t occur to anyone involved in the film that it’s an issue. The three man characters here are Holmes, Watson, and Irene Adler – a woman with whom Holmes has a complicated history. A past.

Suspension of disbelief isn’t a challenge for me. I’m usually perfectly willing to look the other way for pleasure’s sake. But Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) and Rachel McAdams (Adler) having history?

Did he baby-sit?

Downey is lovely. He’s smokin’ hot in this film (hello, handcuffs) and, personally, I love the flecks of grey in his sideburns and mottling the scruff on his face.

Mmmm. Scruff.

He, happily, looks every one of his 40+ years in this movie. And why shouldn’t he? He’s hot, fit and he’s playing a character who’s hot, fit, not sleeping enough, drinking too much, smoking too much, doing too much of things that would rate higher than PG-13…Downey looks like a man with experience and the fact that his forehead is lined adds to instead of detracting from both performance and appeal.

Rachel McAdams delivers a fine performance as Irene Adler, but it just never stands a chance of reaching believable. This is Holmes’ muse…the woman who haunts him – taunts him. She’s the one that got away, who he couldn’t have, who out-played him and, in this film, she returns.

And she looks about 25.

To be fair, Rachel McAdams is in her early 30s, but she’s playing a character who (according to fannish claims which, as a fangirl, I trust) is supposed to be older than Holmes. At the very least, they’re peers. McAdams is the woman who, four years prior to playing a character-with-a-past with Downey, filmed as the meanest of all high school brats in Mean Girls alongside Lindsay Lohan. And her high school meanness was believable.

I’m not a stickler for actors only playing characters their own age and I’m not trying to pigeonhole Rachel McAdams, but a little plausibility goes an awfully long way. She’s just not old enough to have history with Robert Downey Jr.’s Holmes. Maybe in ten years.

I mentioned my annoyance to some friends and, naturally, the immediate pushback was, if not her, who? My standard favorite for women’s roles – for women not girls – is Emma Thompson. She’s just brilliant, smart, subtle, funny and she’s Emma Fucking Thompson, bitches. Bring it.

Imagine having Emma Thompson to play off the intensity that Robert Downey Jr. brings to a scene. He’s a generous actor – sharing the scenes with McAdams he could have easily stolen – and I can’t help but think that Emma Thompson would have truly sparked against him as the smart, sexy, experienced woman who bested the smart, sexy, experienced man.

This isn’t (just) a plea for MOAR EMMA THOMPSON (though, really). The more I thought about it, the more irritated I got that the rich character of Irene Adler has effectively been reduced to a pretty face. The character isn’t written particularly badly, but in over your head, Irene plays out more like being young and naïve than being simply outmatched by an übervillian. Perhaps McAdams is partially to blame for a too-modern performance, but I think she’s just miscast.

There are countless women who could have brought a presence to the role that McAdams, looking more like an eager co-ed playing dress-up than an experienced, globe-trotting thief, just couldn’t deliver. Mariska Hargitay, Téa Leoni, Famke Janssen, Juliette Binoche, Maria Bello, Mary Louise Parker…any of them would have immediately had more credibility as Irene Adler, simply because you don’t have to view Holmes as a pedophile in order to conceive of a past. Yes – women in their 40s. They do exist on screen. My beloved Emma Thompson is  – gasp – 51.

I doubt there was anything sinister or intentional in casting someone more than ten years younger than Downey as his past love interest (fourteen years, if you’re counting). Sherlock is, after all, a Guy Ritchie movie and if anyone knows that women in their 40s – and 50s – can hold their own against someone significantly younger, I’m fairly certain Madonna’s ex can attest. No, I’m confident that when casting Adler, it never occurred to people to consider a woman in the same age range as Holmes.

Which is, of course, the real problem.

Posted by: jt | July 20, 2010

yo, shut the fuck up

So. Fucking. Unhappy lately.

Lately, I’ve been seriously contemplating the possibility of just quitting my job and moving in with my parents and…the more I think about it, the more that’s what I want to do, even though I know full well what a bad idea it is.

That’s a much longer post, but it’s the strongest possible indicator of my current mental state, which is fragile, at best.

LIST.

I think I’m going to start requiring myself to make them multiple times a day, because I’m NOT doing well and they HELP.

LIST.

  1. I am grateful for co-workers (who report to me!) who love me and I love them. Seriously, there is actual love.
  2. I am grateful for an abundance of people who honestly care about me and only want what’s best for me.
  3. I am grateful for sunshine. Even if there isn’t very much of it, there’s more. Progress. Some.
  4. I am grateful that I know, if I get to the point where I just can’t be here any more, I know my mom will choose my needs over my dad’s wants, i.e. I can go there until I figure out what’s next.
  5. I am grateful that, even though I forgot my wallet today, I could get much-needed food with the gift card my intern had given me.
  6. I am grateful for my deep, unshakable belief that things work out. Even if it’s really fucking dark right now.
  7. I am grateful that I always, always exceed my personally-mandated requirement of 5 things on this list without trying.
  8. And I’m grateful for Auto-Tune the News, because it’s just damn funny.
Posted by: jt | July 16, 2010

i see the bad moon arising

Sometimes I wonder how, if I do have kids, I can raise them to share my values when I’ll have to instill them through completely different channels.

I was raised to be a Good Little Christian. I tried. For a really long time. And I’m not. Christianity does, however, inform my value systems and beliefs and it’s difficult for me to imagine how to so effectively teach the lessons I learned without the community, ritual and scripture that is so well-established in “the church.”

I was raised to believe in science and practicality. I was taught that there is no such thing as ghosts. After seeing one and having multiple smart, sane friends who’ve had definite “supernatural” experiences, I don’t think I could bring myself to teach a child that, there’s no such thing as ghosts. My biggest issue there is, there were many nights as a kid when I clung to that mantra – and actually believed it – and it’s the only reason I ever fell asleep.

Until I was introduced to www.astro.com by a friend, I put absolutely no stock in astrology. Having been born on the cusp between Taurus and Gemini, I used to read both horoscopes and jokingly “choose” whichever I liked better.

If you know your place and time of birth, I defy you to use that site and not find its accuracy unnerving. It’s not always 100% on…but maybe 90%. I generally read my horoscope toward the end of the day (unless I’m having a bad day and need some reassurance or forewarning on the next day) so I don’t feel like my opinion is being swayed. I used to find it bizarre. Now I just nod along.

This was/is today. And it’s pretty much spot on. And I’m trying.

Don’t cave in
During this time most people have to deal with feelings of doubt, discouragement and inadequacy. Also you may find yourself unpleasantly confronted by the consequences of past actions that you hoped would simply go away. The challenge is to confront them without caving in and feeling hopeless. Now you will question whether you are doing what you should with your life. The temptation is to decide that you are not, and to give up. Others may try to convince you that you are on the wrong course and give you very demoralizing advice. Of course, you may in fact be wrong in some area, and there you should change course. But you must avoid the tendency to cave in. Evaluate what you are doing in your own terms, not someone else’s, and decide whether you are acting properly in various matters.

Posted by: jt | July 12, 2010

the papers wouldn’t lie

I can’t claim anything resembling “Of The Week” these days, but this headline begged to be shared. I love the BBC and their lovely, lovely cheek.

I snickered out loud when I saw the first example:

And then I saw the second:

And realized, they’re going to milk this for all it’s worth:

I love the BBC.

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve smilingly used the line, Your English is much better than my Arabic/Russian/German/Spanish/French/Bulgarian/Japanese/insert language of choice here to attempt to make someone feel less self-conscious about their non-native English.

Every time I say it, I’m grateful that English is my native tongue because fer fuck sake, y’all we’re ridiculous.

I Tweeted about the infinite greyness of Seattle’s sky this evening and – oh, internet – then Googled “grey gray” to better contemplate the origins of that spelling disparity. My slight ADD and over-clickiness led me down the following path, which just affirms my gratitude for the privilege of having grown up speaking English:

shove
love
dove
above
glove
hover

stove
cove
jove
rove
wove
dove
grove

And the somewhat inexplicable:

move
&
prove

Yep. We’re ridiculous.

………

Update: Just because it makes me smirk…I batted around several ideas for the title for the post and couldn’t remember this actual phrase. To find it, I Googled offensive country song after 9/11. Indeed, the Toby Keith classic was the top hit.

Posted by: jt | June 15, 2010

one of these days these boots are gonna walk

I finished The Worst Project Ever at work today. Normally when I pull off miracles on the job – and this one is really multiple, simultaneously-occurring miracles – I have that sense of satisfaction from, yet again, accomplishing the impossible.

Today I just wanted to throw things.

I’m sick of being asked to pull off the impossible. I’m sick of working in a system where you can’t push back and tactfully say, You’re a fucking idiot and that request is offensive. Lemme tell you how this works. Because survival is based on pleasing people who frequently don’t have the first clue about what they’re doing and, if they’re not happy, they will go elsewhere.

I’m sick of a system where everyone talks circles around partnership and collaboration when the majority of the people in it just don’t. They don’t partner and they don’t collaborate. They ask for things, or demand them, without thought or concern for repercussions or realities.

I’ve done this work for six years now and yes, I have pretty clear ideas on what makes a successful project, but they come from a place of lessons learned – mostly the hard way. When I got into this program and network, I was totally on my own with no guidance. My predecessor literally gave two weeks notice and I had no choice but to learn on the job and fast.

So I did.

I will always love the program – the people – that I’ve dedicated the last six years of my life to, but I am so fucking done with being taken advantage of, talked down to, and undervalued. It’s a near-daily occurrence in this network, in large part because it’s systemic. It’s like everything else – racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, etc. – until the system changes, and people stop referring to my work as help and playing games by pitting one partner against another, it’s just going to continue to grate on every nerve in my body.

Tomorrow I will meet the people for whom I pulled together multiple minor miracles. And they will be lovely. And they will be appreciative. And they will value their time and their experience.

And I’ll try to make myself believe that it’s worth it because, for them, it is.

Posted by: jt | June 10, 2010

a poet reads his crooked rhyme

Out beyond ideas
of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down
in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language
– even the phrase “each other” –
do not make any sense.

………

I can always find solace in Rumi.

(Don’t tell my grandma.)

To be fair, I can always find things that put me off too.

But we’re sticking with solace.

Posted by: jt | June 8, 2010

shut the fuck up

Clearly, we need a fucking list.

1. I am grateful for long, rambling conversations with my mom.

2. I am overwhelmingly, unfathomably grateful that my mom has taken control of her life and her mental health and doesn’t cry every five minutes any more. Or AT ALL.

3. I’m grateful for Kevin, who came up in conversation last night and has been on my mind all day today. I so got the best deal in all the silliness that went down a gazillion years ago.

4. I’m grateful that I have a job, even if I’m sick of it.

5. I’m grateful for people who make me smile, just by clicking “Like” on a Facebook post.

6. I’m grateful that I have PRESENTS to look forward to SOMETIME and that I have no idea when, so coming home every day is a little bit exciting.

7. I’m grateful that I have people in my life who I can be real and honest with.

8. I’m grateful that I’m CAPABLE of being real and honest.

Take that, grey skies of Seattle. I’m grateful that I KNOW THERE ARE PLACES WHERE THE SUN SHINES.

And, goddammit, I’ll get there.

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